Bible

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The “Works” debate

Published May 24, 2017 by thinkinbout

Hi all, lately I have been learning EXPONENTIALLY more than I ever dreamed about the Bible. I am doing this by listening to podcasts on iTunes (Cornerstone Sermons, Leading the Way Radio, The Bible Answer Man Broadcast) and reading books such as How to Read the Bible for all It’s Worth, How to Read the Bible Book by Book, and any and all books and articles from the website reasons.org.  I am going to start a series of blog posts about what I’ve learned that have changed my mind about certain things that I was either taught or thought were correct that I’ve learned aren’t. You’ll see what I mean when I write the entries, but tonight I wanted to give some clarity to the “works” debate.

As a Protestant, I have always been taught that we do not work FOR salvation but FROM salvation.  Good works are an important part of a Christian’s life to bring glory to God and, obviously, to help people, as Christ taught in Matthew 25:35-45. It wasn’t really a “teaching” exactly, or a command, it’s more of an expectation. I cannot speak to the Catholic point of view, but I have the impression that “good works” help in salvation. If I am wrong, please do let me know!

The book of James seems to be a point of confusion, since it seems to say that works have a part in salvation, although elsewhere in the Bible it is clear they don’t (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:28, Galatians 2:16). However, James 2:14-26 states:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but dose not have works?       Can his faith save him?  If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food,           and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you don’t give       them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have           works, is dead by itself.  But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show     me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. You believe           that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe-and they shudder.  Foolish man!     Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?  Wasn’t Abraham our               father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  You see that faith     was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected.  So the                     Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for     righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a man is justified by works     and not by faith alone.  And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified     by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route?         For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

Now here comes the part where it’s is imperative that we read this and the entire Bible in context. I have blogged about understand context and history before with my entries on:

“Should Christian women avoid wearing jewelry or braids?” (blog 8 of Lent)

“Tattoos” (blog 5 of Lent)

Why sacrificing a child wasn’t odd in Old Testament times (blog 3 of Lent)

Why Paul “prohibited” women from speaking in church (“This is why understanding the context, history, and language of the Bible is important”)

And thankfully my Bible explains what we may not understand regarding this issue. (I use The Apologetics Study Bible, if you’re interested) The foot note in James says this: “Many skeptics argue that a contradiction exists between Paul’s statement that ‘a man is justified by faith apart from works’ (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16) and the teaching of James that ‘a man is justified by works and not by faith alone’ (James 2:24). However, these positions actually complement each other.

First, Paul and James addressed different situations. On the one hand, Paul refuted a Jewish legalism holding that one must observe the [Jewish] Law’s requirements in order to be saved. On the other hand, James opposed an antinomianism that was twisting faith in Christ so much that no expression of works was necessary.

Second, when Paul used the word ‘justified,’ he meant ‘saved’ or ‘declared righteous,’ whereas James meant ‘vindicated’ or ‘authenticated.’ By “works,’ Paul meant ‘works of the Law,’ whereas James meant works that faith produces.

In light of the above, Paul was saying that one is declared righteous by God apart from the works of the Law. James, by contrast, was saying that a person’s faith produces works that vindicate his faith in Christ as genuine. James used Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac and Rahab’s protection of the spies as examples to show that their works authenticated the reality of their faith in God. For James, faith without works was clearly worthless; it must be more than words. Authentic faith will bear the fruit of good works.

(Glitter) Ash Wednesday

Published March 2, 2017 by thinkinbout

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My favorite color is glitter. It’s true, I even have a shirt that says so. So you’d think I’d be the first one to jump on the glitter ash train! Actually, I couldn’t even get to church at all this Ash Wednesday since I have two kids under age two at home. But, anyway, let’s explore what these glitter ashes mean. According to the Washington Post, “The Glitter Ash project,created by New York nonprofit Parity, encouraged clergy to mix glitter into the ashes this year, to represent the inclusion of LGBT people in Christian life.” Wow, that’s nice, and pretty, I bet.  Not being facetious. I bet it really was pretty.

To be honest, it is a shame-SHAME- that gay people have felt, with VERY good reason, excluded from the Christian community.  Sadly, that is the one proclivity that has met with more disdain and scorn than any other. Just think of the Westboro Baptist Church, those of “God hates fags” fame.  And the Bible does have much to say about homosexual behavior–as it does about lying, stealing, and drunk behavior, but for some reason, those just haven’t been seen as “bad” as homosexual behavior.  But even Jesus told the religious leaders of His day that prostitutes would see heaven before they would.  Yes, sin is serious-and that’s why Jesus came, to deal with the problem of sin.  And, good news!-we ALL have sin and proclivities that need to be overcome! So we should rejoice that, even though we will deal with sin until the day we die, God does not reject you BECAUSE you deal with one sin or another, meaning, yes, of course our sin condemns us, but what I mean is, you aren’t condemned solely because you identify as homosexual…or are an alcoholic, fornicator, etc.  If we truly love the Lord, we will struggle against our demons. Sometimes we will give in to them.  Thank God for Jesus.

However, I do not agree with this Glitter Ash trend at all.  When the priest rubs the ashes on your forehead, he says, “From dust you came, from dust you shall return.”  The symbolism of ashes goes much deeper than that, though.  Let me just give two examples.  One, think of Job.  In the last chapter of that book, titled “Job Replies to the Lord” in my Bible (CSB), Job says to God, “I had heard rumors about You, but now my eyes have seen You.  Therefore I take back my words and repent in dust and ashes.”

The second example is of Queen Esther.  This is from chapter 4, verse 3. Esther has found out about a plot to kill the Jews:  “There was great mourning among the Jewish people in every province where the king’s command and edict came.  They fasted, wept, and lamented, and many lay on sackcloth and ashes.”

In each instance, ashes are associated with repentance.  With a deep sadness over sin.  So when Julie Zauzmer of the Washington Post writes, “People are responding with such joy that they can show their faith and show that they are LGBT,” said the Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, executive director of Parity. “LGBT people are people of faith, too. … On the day, Ash Wednesday, when Christians are publicly Christian, we are going to be publicly queer,” she, and everyone involved in this latest SJW craze, is, frankly, wrong. They are cheapening, indeed, misunderstanding, what the ashes mean, but also placing the focal point on themselves, or at least a community of people, instead of the One on whom the focus should be. Lent is never about us. Easter is never about us. Nothing that should put the focus on God is EVER about US.  WE are not what it’s all about.

Living in these days…

Published February 26, 2017 by thinkinbout

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Times, they are a’changin. We have witnessed so many changes here in the USA, and across the world, and what I am most concerned with is the level of violence. And I mean the level of violence due to someone disagreeing politically. If it wasn’t so dangerous, it would be laughable. How could it have come to this in my beautiful country of America? Today I was reading 2 Thessalonians, and part of it hit home. I don’t even think I need to extrapolate on this, I’ll just write out the verses and leave it there as food for thought.

“For that day [the Day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy come first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction…For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing…The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved. For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, so that all will be condemned-those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.”  Sounds a lot like all the, quite frankly, absurd, foolish, and violent riots and demonstrations that are taking place right now.

Could it be time to repent?

Published July 16, 2016 by thinkinbout

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These days are crazy. I mean, everywhere, people have gone batty. People are too offended by everything, terror attacks are happening daily the world over, coups taking place, violence, hatred, cruelty, selfishness, you name it. Could that be a sign that it’s time to repent? Warnings always come before destruction. Scripture doesn’t seem to indicate any kind of worldwide revival, though it does indicate warning after warning and call after call to return to God, but without heed. God hasn’t closed that door yet, and with the way the world is going, I think it’s time.

Jonah went to “the great city of Nineveh” (“an extremely large city,” Jonah 3:3) to preach repentance, and that entire city repented and turned to God. They didn’t just stop there; they fasted too. They truly repented, and it wasn’t some half hearted”sorry.” They were convicted. And destruction was averted.

I bet that’s the only time in history where that has happened on such a large scale. Doesn’t it sound better to turn away from sin and live in peace? Doesn’t it sound desirable to be in right relationship with God and avoid destruction? And yet, the answer for too many will be “no.”

Christ in the Passover

Published April 21, 2016 by thinkinbout

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The following was not written by me. It was yet another thing that I emailed myself and did not include who wrote it. I don’t know why I did that so much when I was younger, especially being a history major. I should have known better! Anyway, this is from 2008, or at least that’s when I sent it to myself. I thought it appropriate since Passover begins in another day or two.

1 Cor. 5:6-8
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Messiah our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. ”

Several symbolic clues during Passover are fulfilled in Christ. John the Baptist introduced Jesus by saying, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). The Jews had been celebrating Passover for 1,500 years. They understood the significance of John’s statements.

Isaiah 53, written hundreds of years before Christ, records the suffering the human lamb would experience.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:7-10).

Triumphal Entry of the Lambs

In the first century, a lamb was chosen by the high priest outside of Jerusalem on the tenth of Nisan. Then the priest would lead this lamb into the city while crowds of worshipers lined the streets waving palm branches and singing Psalm 118, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”

Jesus our Messiah entered Jerusalem this same day, on a donkey (usually ridden by a king), probably right behind the High Priest’s procession. The crowds that had just heralded the entrance of the sacrificial lamb heralded the entrance of the Lamb of God. Accordingly, Jesus identified himself with the Passover sacrifice (John 12:9-19). The next day, as Jesus entered Jerusalem , His entry fulfilled prophecy.

Enthusiasm filled the air. All Israel knew that it would be in Jerusalem where Messiah would be enthroned as their King. Edersheim writes,

Everyone in Israel was thinking about the Feast, Everyone was going to Jerusalem , or had those near and dear to them there, or at least watched the festive processions to the Metropolis of Judaism. It was a gathering of universal Israel , that of the memorial of the birth-night of the nation, and of its Exodus, when friends from afar would meet, and new friends be made; when offerings long due would be brought, and purification long needed be obtained and all worship in that grand and glorious Temple , with its gorgeous ritual. National and religious feelings were alike stirred in what reached far back to the first, and pointed far forward to the final Deliverance.

The High Priest would then take the lamb to the Temple , where it would be tied in public view so that it could be inspected for blemish. In the same way, Yeshua sat and taught in the Temple courtyard for four days. He was inspected and questioned as the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the law sought to trip him up in His words and entrap Him. They could not, because He was perfect and without blemish (Lancaster1996).

Passover pronounces redemption. To believers in Messiah, the Passover feast has a special meaning. Though we are not slaves, as God’s people in Egypt , we were slaves to our sin, our own wants and desires. Sin was our master until Jesus, the Passover Lamb, delivered us from our Egypt . The lamb slain during Passover is a foreshadow of the redemption we find in Jesus, the Messiah, our Passover lamb. The principle of redemption is the concept of bondage to the slavery of sin and freedom from its domination (John 8:31-36). To be “redeemed” means to be purchased from slavery. Jesus Christ purchased our freedom with His blood as the payment for the redemption (Ps. 34:22; 1 Peter 1:18,19; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:7).

Jesus ate the Passover meal with eleven of His disciples (see Passover in Bible Times). Just as the priest was to teach, pray, and offer sacrifice, Christ, the High Priest, taught, prayed, and then offered Himself as our sacrifice.
After the Meal

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. (John 18:1).

Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane . The garden has many ancient olive trees today, some of which may have grown from the roots of the trees that were present in Jesus’ time. (All trees in and around Jerusalem were cut down when the Romans conquered the city in 70 a.d. Olive trees can regenerate from their roots and live for thousands of years.) The name Gethsemane comes from the Hebrew Gat Shmanim, meaning “oil press” (Kollek). Since oil is used in the Bible to symbolize the Holy Spirit, it may be said that the garden is where “the Spirit of God was crushed” (Missler 1995).

It was here that Jesus agonized in prayer over what was to occur. It is significant that this is the only place in the King James Version where the word agony is mentioned (Strong’s concordance). The Greek word for agony means to be “engaged in combat” (Pink). Jesus agonized over what He was to go through, feeling that He was at the point of death (Mark 14:34). Yet He prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done” (Terasaka 1996).

Of medical significance is that Luke mentions Him as having sweat like blood. The medical term for this, hemohidrosis, or hematidrosis, has been seen in patients who have experienced extreme stress or shock to their systems (Edwards). The capillaries around the sweat pores become fragile, and leak blood into the sweat. A case history is recorded in which a young girl who had a fear of air raids in World War I developed the condition after a gas explosion occurred in the house next door (Scott). Another report mentions a nun who, as she was threatened with death by the swords of the enemy soldiers, “was so terrified that she bled from every part of her body and died of hemorrhage in the sight of her assailants.” (Grafenberg) As a memorial to Jesus’ ordeal, a church which now stands in Gethsemane is known as the Church of the Agony (ibid).

Immediately thereafter, He was betrayed by Judas (Mark 14:43), and captured by the high priest and taken for trial before Caiaphas (Luke 22:54). Consequently, Jesus was crucified between two thieves, fulfilling His own prediction that “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14). Most of His disciples fled at His arrest; only a group of women and one disciple, called “the disciple whom He loved,’ were present at the cross when He died (John 19:25-27; compare Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40; and Luke 23:49).
Jesus’ Trial, Death, and Resurrection

Many of us have a hard time grasping the pain and suffering Christ went through on the crucifixion day. Television today has de-sensitized our feelings pertaining to the horrifying violence of the torture and slow death of Jesus.

The following is just a portion of an article by Dr. C. Truman Davis, M.D., M.S., titled: “The Crucifixion Of Jesus: The Passion Of Christ From A Medical Point Of View,” which explains some of the agony of Christ:

In the early morning, Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken across Jerusalem to Pontius Pilate. The prisoner is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. A short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs.

The condemned man was forced to carry the patibulum [cross bar], apparently weighing about 110 pounds, from the prison to the place of execution. Without any historical or Biblical proof, medieval and Renaissance painters have given us our picture of Christ carrying the entire cross. Many of these painters and most of the sculptors of crucifixes today show the nails through the palm. Roman historical accounts and experimental work have shown that the nails were driven between the small bones of the wrists and not through the palms. Nails driven through the palms will strip out between the fingers when they support the weight of the human body. The misconception may have come about through a misunderstanding of Jesus’s words to Thomas, Observe my hands. Anatomists, both modern and ancient, have always considered the wrists as a part of the hand. A titilus, or small sign, stating the victim’s crime was usually carried at the front of the procession and later nailed to the cross above the head. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. The heavy patibulum [crossbar]of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession headed by a centurion, begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa. In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross.

The crucifixion begins. The legionnaire drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading, Jesus of Nazareth , King of the Jews is nailed in place.

Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber; then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

The body of Jesus is now in extremis, and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brings out possibly little more than a tortured whisper, ‘It is finished.’

His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally He can allow His body to die.

With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Truman 1965).

Jesus died as the lambs for the Passover meal were being slain. Not a bone was to be broken in these sacrificial lambs (Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12). Jesus, the Lamb of God, was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (1 Cor. 5:7).

During the Passover time, a sign hung on each lamb’s neck, bearing the name of the owner of the lamb. Jesus was crucified with a sign hung over His head with the name of His Father. Studies have shown the Tetragrammaton probably appeared over Jesus when He hung on the cross. During Bible times, messages were commonly written with the first letter of each word. An example in English: UPS, stands for United Parcel Service. The phrase ‘Jesus of Nazareth and King of the Jews’ was written in three languages on a sign above Jesus as He hung on the cross (John 19:19). The Hebrew initials for ‘Jesus of Nazareth and King of the Jews’ was YHWH. That is why the priest asked Pilate to change the writing. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written (John 19: 21-22).

The story does not end with the death of Jesus. His body was placed in a new tomb that belonged to a man named Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42). The greatest event that separates Jesus from all others is the fact that He overcame death. In three days He rose again and lives today. He arose from the grave on the Feasts of Firstfruits!

On Nisan 17, when Israel emerged from the Red Sea , this emergence was a shadow of the fulfillment of the day of Firstfruits (Lev. 23:9-14). This was the first of God’s people to emerge from sin ( Egypt ). It was fulfilled 1,478 years later on Nisan 17, 30 a.d. when Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven as our high priest, the Firstfruit of the resurrected (John 20:17).”

Blog 9 of Lent

Published March 19, 2016 by thinkinbout

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Ok, well that whole attempt to blog each day of Lent went out the window real fast. That’s ok though.

Tonight I want to write about something that is on my heart, not something I read in Scripture. It’s about the proper attitude for a Christian. These days, negativity, hatefulness, rudeness, and intolerance abound. It is so very easy, and often much more desirable, to have one of the above attitudes. This has been on my mind due to the political climate in America right now. The political strife is probably a better way to term it. And that, in turn, made me think about the nasty attitudes we see everyday.

One of those nasty, and unfortunately growing, attitudes is entitlement. Entitlement is the opposite of humility. Humility is growing more and more rare. Listen to me: You CANNOT please God and not be humble. Everyone, it seems, feels entitled to something, and when they don’t get the desired result, they get mad. They get mean. They sometimes lash out physically and hurt people without a prick of the conscience. If someone flips you the bird, you feel it’s ok to hurt them. Someone’s wearing “awesome” new shoes, and you think you deserve them, so he’s killed for a PAIR of SHOES. This happened a couple weeks ago in the city where I live. Let this sink in. A TEENAGER WAS KILLED FOR A PAIR OF SHOES.

Someone’s rude to you, you’re more rude back. It just escalates.

It’s the opposite of humility.

Do you know how many times the Bible mentions humility? It certainly is a big deal to God. I’m only going to mention 3 here:

Philippians 2:3- Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. …

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

A thankful heart, a servant’s heart, and a humble heart are what are pleasing to God.

Also, going back to the political climate, I am shocked at the vile comments I see on Facebook about candidates in these people’s own preferred party. I am in a bunch of conservative groups on Facebook, and after each of the Republican candidates who have dropped out, many of the members of the FB group make cruel, hateful, abhorrent comments about that candidate. I have seen the most vitriol saved for Marco Rubio. After reading such detestable comments, you’d think it was a liberal saying these things. Let me gently remind you that whatever you do for the least of these you do to [Jesus]. That includes names you call people. That includes how you treat people. When you insult or comment that this loser should have dropped out sooner and curl up and die, you are saying this about a sacred soul created in God’s own image. In essence, you are saying it to God Himself, and that must be repented of. That goes for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump too.

Blog 8 of Lent, and, Why understanding the history, culture and language of the Bible is important!

Published February 27, 2016 by thinkinbout

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This is an important one. This is one that I have often heard twisted maybe more than any other piece of Scripture, and one in which people claim shows St. Paul’s sexism. They couldn’t be more wrong.

First, I’ll copy and paste this email I sent to myself a decade ago (don’t know who wrote it), and then add my thoughts. I have also heard a sermon about this from Michael Youseff, but unfortunately I do not know the title of that sermon. Anyway, the sermon and this piece concur.

“Should Christian women avoid wearing jewelry or braids?

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
—1 Timothy 2:9-10, NIV
These verses might throw you for a loop if your Bible-reading plan calls for an arbitrary number of verses a day. But if you read the Bible a book at a time and you have the ten minutes it takes to read this epistle all in one chunk, you notice two things: First, that the entire second chapter deals with the worship service, so Paul is not talking about how women should dress when they go grocery shopping. Second, that Paul addressed this epistle specifically to Timothy, not to us. We are reading this epistle, so to speak, over Timothy’s shoulder:
To Timothy my true son in the faith
—1 Timothy 1:2, NIV
Therefore, if we apply this passage directly, without taking the context or Timothy’s immediate needs into account, our interpretation isn’t biblical.
Every time I go to the mall and see how the people are dressed, I wonder how we could have had a shipwreck this far inland. But even in this age of fashionable grunge, clothing says a lot about you. For example, it is fairly safe to presume that a man dressed in a tuxedo is probably not on his way to the harbor to unload a ship. And a woman who is standing on a street corner in a bad neighborhood at night in fishnet stockings, a clear vinyl skirt, and too much makeup, is not likely to be a nun. So if I were a modern apostle writing to the pastor of a church located near a red-light district, I would say, “your women should not be wearing fishnet stockings and clear vinyl skirts.” By that I would not mean that if fashion changes and fishnet stockings become respectable, you should still not wear them, I just mean that however the entrepreneurs of the horizontal industry should happen to dress, you shouldn’t.
However, the situation wasn’t quite that extreme for Timothy. In those days, braids and jewelry were ostentatious, beauty-pageant type things. Paul’s concern was not about braids and jewelry, but about vanity and ostentatiousness. It’s important not to turn the worship service into a beauty pageant, because women would spend all their time competing and none of it worshiping. It can send the poor women home in tears and puff the rich women up with pride, and this is not supposed to be the outcome of Christian worship.
So I think we should interpret Paul as giving specific instructions to Timothy that were applicable to his immediate needs and circumstances, from which we should derive the principle that Christian women should dress appropriately—neither too severely, nor too wildly. Paul did not speak of men, not because the principle does not apply to them, but because men’s clothing wasn’t the problem in Timothy’s church and Paul’s immediate purpose was to address Timothy’s needs. We should apply the same rules to men, because the underlying principle is applicable everywhere and to everyone. We should all dress modestly and appropriately, not sticking out in one extreme or the other.
Well, that’s what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:9—what we should not wear. In 1 Timothy 2:10, Paul talks about what we should wear. And this brings to mind the popular saying that you are never fully dressed without a smile. I suppose that would be true for us if we were secular people, because we live in a shallow society that shuns people who are sad. If we are secular people, concerned only about getting ahead, we should always smile, so that we won’t suffer any disadvantage. But if we are Christians, we have something better than cheerfulness—we have the love of God, which is so strong we don’t need to plaster our faces with fake smiles, and we do not need to avoid sad people. In fact, Jesus sent us to seek them out and lift them up.
A doctor is never fully dressed for work without a stethoscope, nor a mason without a trowel, nor a carpenter without a hammer. A Christian is never fully dressed without the good deeds that are appropriate for those who profess to worship God.”

The people who claim that Paul was sexist do not understand this passage, and that is too bad. In fact, in high school especially, this was brought up and flung in my face to make me doubt my faith, or to show me that my religion was one of oppression of women. But they didn’t understand the times. They didn’t understand that these particular women to whom Paul was writing were dressing up for one another and that was taking focus off worship. Women like to dress up. If I could wear a ball gown and glitter everyday, I would. But church is not a time for dress up, it is to be a time of focus on God. Attention should be on Him and Him alone.